Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota

The Young Women’s Cabinet

The Young Women’s Cabinet, comprised of up to 25 young women and youth leaders (ages 16-24) from eight communities across Minnesota, is charged with ensuring that the work of the Young Women’s Initiative MN Council stays grounded in the lived experiences of the young women and youth from each community and the community-specific challenges and solutions they identified.

YWI Cabinet Nena Abosi

Nena Abosi

Nena is currently a senior at Central High School, where she is involved with Senior Class Council, Pan-African Student Union, and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination program). She is also a Girl Scout and a student leader, a liaison supporting the freshmen class with orientation and conducting class bonding activities at the freshmen class retreat. Along with this, Nena has been preparing herself for college starting next fall. When she is not focused on her school work and extracurricular activities, Nena enjoys reading and watching comedy specials on Netflix.

YWI Cabinet Anika Ahluwalia

Anika Ahluwalia

Anika is a junior at Wayzata High School. She is very interested in computer science, is a BPA state-champion in Visual Basic Programming, and works actively to recruit more girls in her school and district to participate in STEM activities. She created the Girls Got IT Scratch Camp to teach middle school girls basic computing concepts through Scratch software. Anika is also involved in mentoring freshmen in her high school by being a Link and PEACE leader. On weekends, Anika teaches Hindi to young Indian-American children through the Chinmaya Mission Organization. She has played varsity tennis for two years.

YWI Cabinet Nashel Bebeau

Nashel’ Bebeau

Nashel’ is a recent graduate of Deer River High School and is currently working on her degree in early childhood education. She is actively engaged in numerous community activities. She is her community’s youth activities coordinator and serves as the secretary/treasurer for the Ball Club Local Indian Council. Nashel’ has also served as the youth representative on the Ball Club Local Indian Council and the student representative on the Johnson-O’Malley Committee. Additionally, she was a youth basketball coach, LINK crew President, and developed a youth council in her community.

YWI Cabinet Ling Debellis

Ling Debellis

Ling is a junior in high school at Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul. She is a lifelong Gillette Children’s patient and fundraises for its mission to give specialized healthcare to special needs kids. Ling plans to attend college and earn a dual MD/PhD degree in the biological sciences. Ling wishes to work as a medical researcher for public or private institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, or pharmaceutical companies.

YWI Cabinet Andrea Duarte-Alonso

Andrea Duarte-Alonso

Andrea is a third-year student at St. Catherine University, where she is studying political science, women’s studies, communications, and journalism. Andrea is currently a college writing tutor in the O’Neill Center and a program assistant in the Center for Women at St. Kate’s. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Her Campus St. Kate’s, an online collegiette blog, and the co-president of the Political Science Club. In the past, Andrea has interned with the communications department in the Governor’s Office, and most recently at America Votes.

YWI Cabinet Grace Espinoza

Grace Espinoza

Grace is a senior at Saint Cloud State University with a major in social work and a minor in women’s studies. She has been employed through the Women’s Center at Saint Cloud as a programming and outreach assistant for two years. In addition, she is also an intern for NARAL as the Saint Cloud State campus representative. During the summer, she also serves for AmeriCorps with the Yes Network, working with low income youth and families.

YWI Cabinet Raie Gessesse

Raie Gessesse

Raie is a sophomore attending Hamline University, double majoring in public health and public service with a minor in social justice. Outside of student life, she serves as a resident advisor on campus and a teaching assistant in the public health department. Previously, Raie was a community sexual health educator for African immigrant youth through Planned Parenthood. She plans on combining her leadership roles in attending graduate school, seeking a degree in health policy to work in state/federal institutions on equitable health policies for young women of color.

YWI Cabinet Eron Godi

Eron “Winnie” Godi

Winnie Godi was born in Kampala, Uganda, resettling in the U.S. when she was two years old. She received a bachelor’s degree in international relations and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies from Augsburg University and graduated cum laude. As a community partnership specialist at Girl Scouts River Valleys, Winnie provides all-girl inclusive programming to 200 girls of color within the Twin Cities. As former president of the Augsburg Pan-Afrikan Student Union, she created spaces deconstructing misogynoir. She was a LEAD and Norway Peace Scholar, Augsburg 2017 Commencement speaker, Outstanding Senior Leader of the Year (2017) and was inducted into the Augsburg Senior Leadership Society (2017). Winnie also created African Pearl Magazine, an online publication.

YWI Cabinet Winona Goodthunder

Winona Goodthunder (Wambdi Ho Waste Win)

Winona comes from Cansayapi (Chan-Shah-Yah-Pee), which means Where the Trees are Painted Red, also known as Lower Sioux Indian Community. She is Bdewakantunwan Dakota and Tchodicii Dine (Navajo). Her passions are cultural education in the medical field, community mental health, advocating for Native American rights, and working with youth to pursue leadership and higher education. Winona works with the nonprofit organization Dakota Wicohan (Dakota Way of Life), where she was first a youth participant, and later a youth leadership mentor and secretary chair on the Board of Directors. Currently, she is a medical assistant/medical receptionist at PrairieCare and a medical lab assistant at Lower Sioux Health Care Center. She resides in Bloomington, while she is pursuing her pre-med aspirations and psychology degree at University of Minnesota-Duluth.

YWI Cabinet Hope Hoffman

Hope Hoffman

Hope lives with spina bifida and manages her blog CamoGurl, providing advocacy and support to other young women living with disabilities. Hope is an active part of her community, through public speaking, publishing articles, and writing legislation. She is pursuing her two-year general education degree and plans to major in political science. Hope has previously interned with The Honorable Federal Judge Donovan Frank and is currently a policy intern with Office of Governor Dayton.

YWI Cabinet Ollie Kalthoff

Ollie Kalthoff

Ollie is a both a junior at Mahtomedi High School and taking classes at Century College through Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). They published an essay advocating for Christian acceptance of transgender and genderqueer individuals in Augsburg Youth Theology Institute’s 2017 Student Journal. They have been involved in many groups on issues of diversity and LGBTQ+ issues, both locally and statewide. Additionally, they have participated in theater as an actor, crew member, and student director.

YWI Cabinet Brianne LaDuke

Brianne LaDuke

Brianne is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, where she is studying psychology and anthropology. During her studies, Brianne plans to travel to Germany. Following her undergraduate degrees, she plans to attend law school with a focus on family law. Brianne does volunteer work with many community events in her hometown, such as the Easter Egg Hunt for youth and the Walk to Remember fundraiser for people with Alzheimer’s. She plans to continue to help underrepresented youth and families as her journey leads her into a career.

YWI Cabinet Brook LaFloe

Brook LaFloe

Brook is currently earning her master’s in education from Loyola University-Maryland. She works with the Montessori American Indian Childcare Center as a guide and developmental assessor. Previously, she tutored children from grades 1 through 8 in all subject areas at the America Indian Magnet School. Brook earned two Association Montessori Internationale Diplomas at the Montessori Institute of San Diego, for infancy years 0-3 and primary years 3-6. She earned her BS in neuroscience and anthropology from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. During her time in college, she was part of the Tulane women’s basketball team and is a Gates Millennium Scholar.

YWI Cabinet Mys Helen Martin

Mys Helen Martin

Born and raised in Minnesota, Mys Helen grew up in the Rondo Community with her mother and grandparents. She started her first company at 19, a successful nonprofit called Faces of Change, which implements innovative programs for youth to advance academically and gain resourceful skills. At 23, she is currently the business specialist at Aurora-St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, where she facilitates an entrepreneurship training program and provides business development to small businesses. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read, and enjoy an adventurous life. Her plan is to run for mayor in 2021 and eventually take Faces of Change international.

YWI Cabinet Rakeb Max

Rakeb Max

Rakeb is a senior at South High School. She is a member of the workshop development and logistics committees for Stand Up, Speak Out, South High and is an award-winning varsity debater and team captain of her school’s debate team. Rakeb has also been involved with High School Democrats and The National Federation of the Blind. Fiercely passionate about public policy and intellectual exploration, Rakeb spends a tremendous amount of her time reading books on policy research and alternative ideological lenses. Her aspiration in life is to be a policy advisor in the White House.

YWI Cabinet Alaysha McCall-Davis

Alaysha McCall-Davis

Alaysha is a junior at St. Louis Park High School. Previously she worked as an intern at Nagell Law PLLC, a firm helping undocumented immigrants obtain visas and citizen status. She is currently volunteering as a tutor in math, reading, and writing for children in elementary school. Additionally, she volunteered for a program preparing meals and planning activities for disadvantaged families. Alaysha aspires to become a criminal defense attorney and wants to major in political science and psychology.

YWI Cabinet Teighlor McGee

Teighlor McGee

Teighlor is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and English at St. Catherine University. She serves as a Womxn of Color Table intern and political healer with TakeAction Minnesota. In her role, she works to empower other women of color politically and spiritually through community engagement in the form of monthly dinners and a yearly leadership conference. She also serves as a Multicultural and International Programs and Services (MIPS) peer mentor and as a peer minister for campus ministry at St. Catherine University. Teighlor’s expertise is in racial and gender equity, community organizing and engagement, healthcare advocacy, LGBTQ rights, social media management, and content writing.

YWI Cabinet Amal Muse

Amal Muse

Amal is a junior at the University of Minnesota. She is studying journalism and political science, and aspires to become an immigration lawyer. She is one of the co-founders of Sisterhood Boutique, a business venture that is designed to help young East African girls gain leadership and work experience. Currently, Amal is the president of Students for the Horn of Africa (SHA,) a student group that advocates and educates the university community about the transnational migration and human rights violations occurring in the Horn of Africa.

YWI Cabinet Haleigh Ortmeier-Clarke

Haleigh Ortmeier-Clarke

Haleigh is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where she is studying plant science with minors in leadership and agricultural and food business management. She served as the vice president of her college’s student board and is currently a national student advisor for Agriculture Future of America. Her family farms on a fifth-generation farm in southwestern Minnesota. Haleigh has a passion for rural living, agriculture, and youth development. Someday, she plans to return to Greater Minnesota and hopes to run for public office.

YWI Cabinet Aamira Redd

Aamira Redd

Aamira is a sophomore at St. Catherine University. Previously, she was a volunteer at the Home Free Women’s Shelter and was later hired as a child advocate. She has also served as a youth member for a council that spread awareness about domestic violence. Aamira is passionate about storytelling and hopes to tell stories through the art of filmmaking. In her free time, she leads an after-school club for multicultural girls at Anwatin Middle School.

YWI Cabinet Lulu Regules Verduzco

Lulu Regules Verduzco

Lulu is a sophomore at St. Olaf College, where she is studying political science, Spanish, and women’s and gender studies. She is involved in St. Olaf’s Student Government Political Awareness Committee, Alpha Phi Omega, and SARN (sexual assault resource network). She volunteers by teaching adult immigrants how to speak English through St. Olaf’s ESL club. Previously she was an executive office intern at WomenWinning and tutored kids who were deemed at risk of not graduating. She graduated with honors and was a member of the National Honor Society at Farmington High School.

YWI Cabinet Katherine Santamaria-Mendez

Katherine Santamaria-Mendez

Born in El Salvador, Katherine was brought to the United States at age two. Growing up watching the struggles of the Latinx community has inspired her to create change in the way her community is treated. At the age of 15, she also became a young mother. She beat all odds and graduated high school, along with earning her associate of arts degree from Saint Paul College. She is currently a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

YWI Cabinet Anna Singhathip

Anna Singhathip

Anna is a senior at Champlin Park High School, and does full time PSEO at the University of Minnesota. She is a volunteer at Woodland Elementary School in Brooklyn Park, where she tutors students. Anna is a member of the National Honor Society program, which has allowed her to volunteer on various projects, such as putting together medical kits and cleaning up parks. In her spare time, Anna enjoys reading, playing the piano, spending time with her friends and family, and volunteering to help supervise the children at her church.

YWI Cabinet Katelyn Vue

Katelyn Vue

Katelyn is senior at North High School while also taking college courses at the University of Concordia in Saint Paul. She is a student reporter for ThreeSixty Journalism, a nonprofit program through St. Thomas. In her position, she interviews and tells stories of youth from diverse communities with a team of media and journalism professionals and high school students all over Minnesota. She is employed at Golden Harvest Foods, where she was awarded cashier of the year. She also volunteered as a mentor and director of Hmong cultural performance plays at Richardson Elementary, which focused on Hmong history and cultural identities.

YWI Cabinet Cierra Wittner

Cierra Wittner

Cierra is both a senior at Cass Lake-Bena High School and a sophomore at Bemidji State University, where she is working towards becoming a mixed practice veterinarian. Cierra also takes college classes at her high school through the Project Lead The Way program. Cierra will attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to finish her degree. She has dedicated much of her time to working with animals and helping with the fight to end suicide and depression. Cierra is also a part of the Accelerators, one of the world’s first all-girls robotics team.